For Claire

A friend of mine is leaving Hawaii and headed to the land of the big Evergreens. She asked I add one of my fiction stories.

This is one that hasn’t been out before. I hope you like it.

                     THE RED HEADED STRANGER

None of the regulars at Dave’s knew the name of the blonde with the big tits. She got off the bus one day, got a room above Dave’s, and just started hanging at the bar. Shots of Black Jack and a draft was all she ordered.

She never talked, only listened to the music like it was the only thing good enough to touch her body.

Most of the local boys were afraid to approach her. A couple tried, and she cut them off with a voice and a tongue like a razor sharp switchblade.

“The red-headed stranger from Blue Rock Montana rode into town one day.

Beneath his knees was a raging black stallion,

Following behind was a bay.”

I saw him from the front window of Dave’s Place. He was driving a ratty old pick-up but the motor sounded real good. It was what was in the bed that caught my eye.

There was a shiny black sportster, custom wheels, stretched frame, and a paint job that looked a foot deep. Next to it was an old panhead that had been in a real hard slam. The front was totaled and the frame was twisted the way only a solid front end crash can twist.

He parked the truck, got out stretching like he’s been on the road a long time. He twisted like he had a bad back then slammed the truck door and started walking toward the back. As he rounded the rear of the pick-up I swear I saw him reach out and touch the panhead with a stroke, and then he patted the sportster. Not touched, patted, like it needed gentling.

He was a big man. I mean real big. We got a lot of big farmers here abouts but I never saw anybody as big as him. And there was a deep sadness in those eyes, and an anger that boiled just below the surface.

“The yellow haired lady was in fear of the stallion,

But she cast greedy eyes on the bay”

He walked in, sat at the bar, and ordered a beer and a shot of Jack. When Al. the bartender, put it in front of him his eyes never left the top of the bar. He just grabbed the shot, downed it, and sipped the beer.

That’s when the blonde spoke outa nowhere,

“Hey Scooter tramp, those your bikes?”

He never looked up. Just stared at the bar and said in a low tired voice, “One.”

“Hey,” she said “My old man dumped me here. How about a ride out and we can be good friends.”

Again he never raised his eyes, “Nope. Don’t need any new friends right now.”

I swear there was a flash of light from the blonde. Her lips pressed and her brows got close together. I never saw anybody get that mad, that fast.

He never moved a muscle. He just raised a finger to Al, made a circle over two empty glasses and that was it.

“Hey man,” she started up again. “I gotta get out of this place. Let me ride one of the bikes. The sportster. I’ll follow you till we get someplace I can get a friend to pick me up.

“Ain’t my bike.” It was the same voice, but there was something different about his shoulders. Tense maybe.

“Then who’s is it?” Can I ask them? I gotta get outa here.” It didn’t seem like she was asking, more like demanding. He still didn’t move but those shoulders were tight.

“Ain’t my bike I said. Go away and don’t bother me Bitch.” That was a final a dismissal as I ever heard. But the shoulders didn’t relax. Not an inch.

“She had no way of knowing the bay meant more to him than life.”

“Well if it ain’t yours, who the hell’s is it?” This time there was no mistaking the demand in her voice.

The big guy never looked up, just clutched the shot glass tighter and said softly, “Hers.”

“Well just fuck you and this one shithole town.” She slammed her empty glass on the bar. She picked up the small bag next to the chair and stomped out of Dave’s.

The big guy never even looked at her. He just circled his finger over the glasses again. Al got the hint and poured the drinks without saying anything.

As we sat there the silence was blasted by the sound of a cycle engine starting.

I looked up out the window, but the big redhead was already at the door. I’ll never forget what I saw.

The blonde had dropped the pickup tailgate, straddled the sportster and started it. Just as she dropped it into gear and jumped forward out of the truck bed the big guy moved faster than anyone I ever saw, big or small.

I never saw him reach for the gun, it was just there in his hand. The blonde and the sportster jumped forward, coming out off the truck bed like a motocross bike off a jump and the big .45 blasted twice. Louder than even the straight pipes on the roaring sportster.

Both rounds took the blonde in the center of the back flinging her from the bike just as it hit the street. She fell one way and the bike fell over with the engine roaring from a open throttle.

Everyone ran to the bleeding body lying on the street. Everyone but the big stranger. He walked over the sportster, turned off the engine, picked it up and started pushing it back to the truck.

She was dead, of that there was no question. Those big .45 slugs just tore her apart. I never even saw him put the gun away.

“The yellow haired lady was buried next morning,

The stranger went free of course,

You can’t hang a man for shooting a woman,

That’s trying to steal his horse.”

(With thanks to Willie Nelson for the the use of his lyrics to “The Red Headed Stranger.)

 

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